So you want to travel here but can’t decide the best time to visit Costa Rica? The timing of your travel plans to any country has a lot of factors to consider, not the least of which is your vacation schedule. Here at Lost World Adventures, we have found that there are 3 main factors (other than your work schedule) that determine the best time to visit: weather, price and availability, wildlife.
For some countries, one of the most important factors is the weather. Located about 10 degrees north of the equator, Costa Rica has a tropical climate with consistent temperatures all year long. This is one reason this country is such a popular destination. There are just two seasons: wet and dry.
The Dry Season runs from mid-December through April. If you are looking for the best weather, this is the right time to visit. If your vacation time is during these months you should head for the western part of the country: Arenal, Monteverde, Corcovado National Park, San Jose, and the entire Pacific Coast from the Osa Peninsula to the Papagayo Peninsula. You can expect sunny days with clear skies. Get ready for an amazing sun tan! (And don’t forget the sunblock.)
The Wet, or Green, Season runs from May through November. This is the season of the lush and exuberant forest and the highest river levels which mean AMAZING World-class whitewater rafting, turtle nesting, migrating whales and lots of rain! Although it’s called the wet season for the amount of rain we get, you will still find sunny mornings and short torrential showers in the afternoon, for perhaps an hour or two. Nothing better than taking a nap when it’s raining…you can ask any local! Then you can keep going - not a bad deal right?
The Caribbean side of the country has its own special climate. The Limon Province, located on the Caribbean side, has the highest amount of yearly rainfall so expect sunny mornings and rainy afternoons most of the year. Because of this, places on the Caribbean side, such as Tortuguero National Park, are fine to visit all year long.
NOTE: Keep in mind that this is a tropical country so rain is possible anywhere at any time. Have your light rain gear handy wherever you are. Also, be aware of the microclimates and mountains throughout the country so don’t forget a warm layer for the chilly days and nights.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY:
An important factor for many of our clients. After the wet season, Ticos (Costa Ricans) are ready for the beach, the ocean, and cold drinks. North Americans are escaping the snow and freezing temperatures with the same goal in mind: sun and relaxation! If you are planning on visiting during this season, hotel rates will be higher and availability may be limited, especially during the busy holiday season. The best weather in the country brings more travelers and higher prices.
A lot of people avoid traveling during the wet season, but they may be missing some amazing off-season hotel deals. The less crowded wet season brings lower prices and space at hotels and lodges is readily available. Some hotels offer free nights for stays of 2 or more nights. Another advantage to the wet and green season: fewer crowds. If you want to avoid the lines and crowded beaches, the off-season is the best time to go. You can enjoy uncrowded beaches and be the first one on the zip line.
If you are worried about your plans been ruined by the rain, don’t be. I often mention to my clients: If it’s raining while you’re on a tour, enjoy! A cool rain can be quite a pleasant relief while walking through the woods on a hot day. If you are shopping, stop at a local coffee shop, meet some locals and watch people while sipping a nice cup of Costa Rican coffee. If you’re at your hotel, relax, read a book or just take a nap.
NOTE: Activities such as zip lining, whitewater rafting or other outdoor activities will be suspended in case of lightning or if the guides decide is not safe to keep on with the plan. Safety is always first. Wildlife: Although you can see wildlife year-round, the Green Season offers great opportunities for wildlife spotting not possible during other times of the year.
If you are a wildlife lover like me, visiting the Tortuguero National Park during the Green Season (specifically from July to October) offers the best opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas), and possibly the Leatherback Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), during their nesting and hatching season. Along the south Pacific Coast the Humpback Whales are migrating and giving birth to their calves.
Whatever your plans, Costa Rica is a year-round destination that can satisfy your needs whether you’re barefoot in a bathing suit or with hiking boots and a raincoat. The final decision will be yours and according to your preferences.
Now that you have a little more information about both seasons…which one do you prefer?